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Gas Leak Training VR

Project Overview


For natural gas employees in Central Texas, sweeping for gas leaks is an important part of routine line maintenance. Nevertheless, the job can come with hidden dangers, complex obstacles, and unique situations. Our simulation uses a realistic functioning Detecto-Pak 4, a gas detecting unit, to sniff a modern suburban neighborhood. This environment has randomly generated scenarios you may find on the job, such as backyard dogs, snakes, and gas-related changes in vegetation. The user also gets the chance to set up parking cones, apply PPE, and see a version of a commonly used mapping app, LocusView.

The Design Challenges


There were two major considerations when designing this experience: the complexity of the gas leak detector and the ability to use a LocusView. The leak detector has several small buttons that need to be used on its interface, a needle gauge, and audio cues upon gas detection. The LocusView app allows the surveyors to find gas lines and leave virtual breadcrumbs.  From our user interviews, we gathered that these workers often look at LocusView on their phones while listening to the beeps of their detector. To simulate this, we created a heads-up display (HUD) to always keep LocusView in view and snapped the detector onto the hip of the user as though it's hanging from a shoulder strap.

Green Screen Filming


This was our first experience being filmed using a green screen which posed several artistic and technical challenges. Our limited lab space and corner setup made it so that every shot was tightly directed, often contorting the VR scene and our actors to get the shot. We used MixCast for our composite filming software and an HTC Vive tracker to pair the physical camera with the virtual camera. Unfortunately, our experiences utilized the VRTK plugin which was incompatible with MixCast. It was then my responsibility to recreate scenes from those experiences without VRTK, but with the same functionality, for filming purposes.


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